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Deportation Stay Provides Temporary Relief For Derby Immigrant

Dave Collins
Luis Barrios poses for a photo in Hartford in May. Barrios, an immigrant facing deportation to Guatemala, was granted a 30-day reprieve on Wednesday hours before he was to be put on a plane to Central America.

An undocumented resident of Derby, Connecticut, has 30 days to win a legal fight to keep from being deported. Supporting him are some of Connecticut’s U.S. congressional delegation, including Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Representative Rosa DeLauro. Luis Barrios, however, still has a hard road ahead of him.

Barrios was born in Guatemala. He lost his father and his brother to the violent gangs that still plague the country. Barrios got out and came to Connecticut in 1992. He took a job cleaning septic tanks. He got married, bought a house in Derby, and he’s raising four children, all U.S. citizens.

“If we are here, we try to do good things. That’s why we are here, working here. I hopefully believe everything’s coming good.”

Barrios has never been arrested. He missed a hearing in 1998 and lost a chance for asylum status, but he wasn’t considered a priority for removal. That changed after the November election, and he was ordered out. He even bought a one-way plane ticket from New York – 4 a.m. last Thursday. Hours before his flight, his phone rang. It was U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

“It’s good news when he called me saying, ‘Luis, you don’t have to go back tonight.’ I have another 30 days to stay with my family. And hopefully everything’s coming better and better.”

True to Trump’s campaign promises, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is arresting more undocumented immigrants, especially immigrants like Barrios with no criminal records. Deportations are actually down from the Obama era, when ICE was told to focus on people with criminal records. Blumenthal says despite that, ICE under Trump is less flexible.

“The administration has been saying to people like Mr. Barrios, ‘The order’s been issued. You’re going to be deported. We don’t care that you haven’t received fair consideration. Here is the order. Here’s the plane and the time that you’ll be gone.’”

Barrios’s attorney, Erin O’Neill-Baker, is working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to get his hearing re-opened before that happens.

“Usually this does not end well,” O’Neill-Baker says.

As Barrios’s life in the U.S. got better and the crime epidemic in Guatemala got worse, O’Neill-Baker filed motion after motion to get his case reopened.

“They were always denied or dismissed. And I have lots of other clients whose cases were dismissed, and they’ve been removed from the United States. I think – because of Mr. Barrios’s specific situations, I think there’s a good chance we can have an opening to have a hearing on his case.”

She says that hearing might not actually come in the next 30 days though.

“What I anticipate is a longer stay or a reopening of his case so he could eventually have a hearing. Those hearings are usually scheduled 18 months out.”

Barrios admits it’s stressful to think about all that uncertainty. But he puts on a good face.

“Inside it’s still something. But I don’t want to show what I’m feeling inside. I want to show to my kids keep fighting.”

Barrios still needs to buy a plane ticket by May 17 and be ready to leave by June 6, if he has to.